Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 19 Oct 2013

The Week’s super-quick catch-up on the main news talking points, available from 8am daily

1. ASSAD SNIPERS ‘TARGET THE PREGNANT’
Pregnant women are coming under fire from snipers in Syria in a war game in which their unborn babies are used as target practice. A British surgeon, who spent five weeks volunteering in a Syrian hospital, tells The Times: “It was a game. We heard the snipers were winning packets of cigarettes for hitting the correct number of targets.”
2. OSBORNE: ‘WE’VE LOST OUR AMBITION’
George Osborne has called on Britain to “up our game”, arguing we have lost our sense of ambition and optimism, reports the Daily Telegraph. “Somewhere along the line in Britain there were bits that were great about British industry that we allowed to wither,” said the chancellor, during his five-day trip to China. He said we must return to the “can do” culture of Victorian times.
3. PRESS: DPP DEFENDS RIGHT TO BREAK LAW
UK’s top prosecutor says journalists are entitled to break the law when pursuing investigations that have a genuine public interest. Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer tells The Guardian that he has drafted legal guidelines under which it would be considered “whether the public interest in what the journalist was trying to achieve outweighed the overall criminality."
4. HS2 ‘WOULD HIT 50 AREAS ECONOMICALLY’
The HS2 rail link would make 50 areas across the UK worse off, according to research by accountants KPMG. Among the areas are Aberdeen, Bristol, Cardiff and Norfolk East. In the case of Aberdeen, economic output would be expected to fall by £220m as a result of the link. The findings were previously unpublished but were released to the BBC after a freedom of information request.
5. BREAST CANCER ‘BREAKTHROUGH’ HAILED
A new pill that could prevent breast cancer has been hailed as a breakthrough with the potential to help millions of women. Trials found the HRT drug — which has been authorised for use in America and is currently being considered for use in the UK — prevented the growth of cancerous tumours. Scientists say the treatment is “the great hope” for women.
6. NASA CALMS 2032 ASTEROID FEARS
Nasa has attempted to calm fears that a world-ending asteroid could strike earth in 2032. After Ukrainian astronomers said the giant rock would hit the planet with the force of 2,500 nuclear bombs, Nasa said that the probability of an Earth impact is only one in 63,000. That means astronomers are 99.9984 per cent certain that it will miss Earth's orbit.
7. ‘INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE’ AT CARE HOME
A Sussex care home where 19 people died was riddled with "institutionalised abuse", a coroner has told an inquest. Penelope Schofield ruled that neglect contributed to five of the deaths at Orchid View home, which was "mismanaged and understaffed". Schofield added: "It's a heartbreaking case. We all have parents who will probably need care in the latter part of their lives."
8. JFK ‘SECOND GUNMAN’ THEORY DENTED
New research into the assassination of John F Kennedy weakens the claim a second gunman was at the scene. Key to the ‘second gunman’ theory has been a recording from a police radio, which included four shots being fired. Lee Harvey Oswald fired just three shots. However, a University of Virginia study says the extra sound was of the microphone rattling, not another gunshot.
9. COURTS MAY SCRAP BIBLE OATH
Magistrate courts may scrap the swearing of oaths on the Bible and other holy books in courts in England and Wales. In its place would be a statement in which people would promise “very sincerely” to tell the truth. The practice is so longstanding that it is not clear whether Parliament would have to approve the change or if it is simply a custom that can be dropped.
10. TOWNSEND SIGNS NEW SPURS DEAL
Tottenham winger Andros Townsend has signed a new four-year contract with the club. The 22-year-old scored on his England debut last week and was caught up in the controversy over Roy Hodgson’s “monkey” joke at the match against Poland. Today, Premier League leaders Arsenal host Norwich, while second-place Liverpool are at Newcastle in the midday kick-off.